A Raucous Cacophony of Sharing

You know those extra buttons at the bottom of a dress shirt that you never actually use? They just sort of get in the way and eventually fall off and are never around when you actually need one. Then you get rid of the shirt and six months later you find the replacement button hiding in an athletic sock that you haven’t worn since the last time you went to the gym. That’s how I’m starting to feel about the “share” buttons at the end of every single piece of media content I read. While individuals do have very passionate feelings toward their social media information aggregator of choice, I wonder if it’s really valuable for a personal or corporate brand to manage all these different sites. Does it really make sense to spread yourself all over the interwebs with every social network possible, or is it more effective to manage a few and be more focused?

As I’ve written before, Lorton Data has a Facebook page, a new Twitter account, a LinkedIn account, a YouTube page, an email newsletter and this rather lovely blog. That’s enough for an organization of our size to manage. Bringing in more social media platforms would be problematic for us. Recently, we’ve attended quite a few lunch-and-learn webinars (why don’t they ever email us pizza and a nice salad beforehand?) that argue that we should be social in every aspect of our business and that each social media platform is the most important thing since the invention of the telephone. What they don’t do is tell us how to manage it all. It’s like a cocktail party where the volume increases as the night goes on until everyone’s yelling cancels each other out and you can’t hear anything over the raucous cacophony of noise.

My advice: Try to keep it simple. You really don’t need to be reached on every single social media platform 24/7/365. If you are a multibillion dollar international business-to-consumer organization, sure maybe it’s a great idea, but if you are a small-to-medium sized business, it just doesn’t make sense. Pick your battles (or platform). Focus on only a couple of social media sites that are easy and comfortable for you to work with and make sense to your client base.

Last year, TechCrunch posted an interesting analysis regarding social sharing on the web. Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Twitter combined for 73% of all the traffic. Many of the smaller social media sites were outstripped by the emailing of information and good old fashioned print button (just don’t tell the office supply gatekeeper). So, in reality if you aren’t monitoring del.ic.io.us, Digg and MySpace, how much revenue are you going to leave on the table?

Yahoo just released a study that related how nearly 50% of tweets consumed are generated by just 20K users. Part of that mix is bloggers talking about people’s blogs. You’ve got a better chance of getting picked up by that crew, than becoming the next Digg star. With Facebook, 51% of the American population over the age of 12 has an account. As an organization, I’d hazard a guess if you focus on them you’ll generate a lot more traffic than playing fifty-two card pickup with the plethora of social media sharing sites out there.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this thought. You know the people that get to the front of the line at Starbucks and still don’t know what they want to order? Imagine those folks trying to decide where to share your article. *Shudder* Too much choice can be absolutely paralyzing. So start small, focus on a couple of sites and most likely you’ll get better feedback than spreading yourself too thin.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to make sure you ignore the “share all” option below and just focus on the Twitter and Facebook icons. Nothing to see here people, nothing to see.

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